Intuitive Design? I Need to Understand!

oct19October 19, 2013 is a day that does not exist in my digital world.  All because of intuitive design.  I blame Seagate.  Or maybe Season Two of Homeland.

Twenty-five years ago I was excited about having a personal computer.  We were working hard and able to afford one, and they were very expensive back then.  I went to a one-day DOS class to learn the basics.  Remember C:\DOS? In order to use my PC effectively I had to UNDERSTAND the basic operations.  Alone, I installed our AOL Dial-up network card and became a comfortable tinkerer.

So what would be so hard about backing up my files now, cleaning up my laptop and being able to stream Homeland without the little hiccups that occur while watching?   October 19, 2013 I pulled out our Seagate external hard drive and like a good girl, I backed up all my files, pictures, emails, etc.  I restored my operating system to a day in February when it worked well.   That was enough for one day.

A few days later I was ready to restore my files.  I plugged in the external hard drive and fixed a cup of coffee.  When I sat back down again, I saw the “easy to use” external hard drive had backed up my files all over again.  It replaced 10/19 with everything from 10/23.  Automatic backup was not what I wanted, but the “easy, intuitive design” jumped way ahead of me.

To make a long story short, the 10/23 files did not have any emails from February till October 23rd.  This was now my backup file.  Nine months’ worth of emails, connections, contacts, networking, receipts, etc.  missing.  It was time to dig deep.  I could do this.  I used to know DOS!  I spent the day googling for instructions, youtubing recovery examples, rooting around in root files, trying to find my lost .pst files.  At the end of the day I went for a walk.

While breathing deep and putting one foot in front of the other, a little birdie told me that Seagate had installed a Dashboard on my desktop.  Of course!  I didn’t have to understand how to recover files, an easy and intuitive way already existed.  DUH! I just had to tell the system what I wanted.

Well, the dashboard was much easier to use, but my files are still gone.  I have nowhere to turn.  And I am bitter about intuitive, easy-to-use design.  Then I found this blogpost:

“So-called intuitive gestures are a poor substitute for a clearly explained alternative…  Seriously, would you have picked up an iPhone with Google Maps loaded and thought to yourself, “I can pinch this glass screen to enlarge the whole image”? Of course not. Nothing in real life–from newspaper print to a magnifying glass–works like that. But it’s amazing because it simply feels fantastic, requiring minimal effort while provoking a response from the interface that is perfectly predictable. And once you go through the motions, you’ll never forget them again” (

I know I’ll never forget how to control the backup of my files again and I’ll work through the Dashboard.  And I won’t use Outlook as my storage location for important information – even though that was easy and intuitive FOR ME!

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